Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hello Ry Mamako!
It’s your silly son Austin here again, out here on my big adventure.
No, but seriously, how are you doing? I’ve got some pretty big news today. Remember how I said that transfers were coming up? Well, my time here in Mahajanga has officially come to an end. I am pretty sad to be leaving this place. It’s crazy how you can just live somewhere for almost six months, and then once the time comes to leave, it feels like it all went by in two seconds. I guess it all has to end sometime though.I’ll be getting on a taxi and leaving here tomorrow morning to go back to Antananarivo. That’s where I’ll be getting transferred. My new area is called Betongolo, and it’s actually a ward! I’ve never worked in ward before. I am pretty stoked about that. I have heard a lot about the ward already and I am stoked to be getting down there. I’ll be a serving there and I will also be serving as an office missionary. Me and my new companion run errands for the office, I guess. I honestly don’t understand much about it yet, but we will see. We are actually one of the only three companionships on the island (as far as I am aware) that has a car. I have also heard that my companion doesn’t have a permit, so we’ll see how that goes. I think I’ll be learning how to drive stick. Sweet. I’ll tell you more about my companion next week, for I have only really met him once. His name is Elder Mocellin and he’s from France. Like I said though, I will tell you more about him next week after I have worked with him for a good couple of days. Maybe I’ll send you a picture of us if your lucky.
That’s the news about the transfer though. I am going back to the big city for my fourth area.
I will miss Mahajanga a lot though. This place is so cool. Well, perhaps the hottest thing in the world, but figuratively cool. Soaring eagles and breathtaking baobab girth cool enough to cool down the heat just enough to smile. Will I miss sweating every hour of every day? Will I miss that funky smell I have picked up from that sweat? Perhaps not, but will I miss all the crazy dialects and saying ‘talilio rika!’ to the posiposy drivers? Certainly I will.
“kara kory ma laolo e?” “tsisy kabary ma”
It’s all good though. There are a few baptisms coming up that I am a little bummed I won’t see, but it’s all good. That’s just the way it goes.
That was honestly the biggest news though. I’ll be getting transferred. I feel like now that I have got that across.. there’s not too much to add now.
I talked to some American guys at a restaurant on Saturday. THAT was interesting. I haven’t spoken English face to face with someone like that since I was with Fox. Two months isn’t really that long of a time I suppose, but it sure was different. They were cool though. They were studying to be doctors here and were visiting a hospital here I guess. They are from Texas. One of the guys actually knew a good bit about missionaries and about the church.  I mean, he knew we were out two years and he even told me that I don’t have much longer left. Would you look at that? Haha, but yeah, they were cool though. I could definitely see how much different I am now. I can talk to strangers much more easily. Of course I have seen that when I speak Malagasy, but doing it in English is a whole different way to play the ballgame.
We will be going to a nice beach today though, which I am pretty stoked about. I’ll be sure to send you pictures next week. It’s called ‘Grand Poivre,’ and although I don’t know anything about it, I have heard that it’s pretty nice.
I’ll be leaving with an elder from my mtc group again, Elder Ewell. I am pretty stoked on that. We got along well back then. He really helped me at the beginning of it all. We are both into skateboarding and stuff of the like, and that really helped me in the beginning, haha.
One thing I have been pretty powered up on lately is working out. My companion and I have been going to a gym every morning for about two weeks. It’s way close to our house, and it’s way raddd. I’m a little bummed I won’t be about to take full advantage of my one month membership.. but that’s just the way it goes. Pumping the iron is nice though. I hope I can get something similar going in my new area so I don’t just get double flabby all over. I still have a pretty big rice belly I need to be working on.
So this next week is going to bring a lot of changes to my mission pattern as it has been of late. I’ll be living with more missionaries than I have seen in months. I’ll let you know how that goes.
Okay, so I actually just barely got to log in to the email (I wrote this in Word) and look at Brittany’s email, and wow! I wasn’t expecting that at all! I mean, of course I knew she was going to be giving birth soon, but now it’s already all done! Haha that’s crazy! He looks like a way radical party dude for sure! Just know that I’ll be keeping him in my prayers though. We’ll get him home in no time. A little slow breathing won’t stop Liam, he’s too much of a man!
I feel like this letter is really long though, so I think I’ll give it a break here.
The newest uncle on the block,
Elder ‘Office Elder’ Bergera

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dearest Mother,

I think there is a toilet (I used 'toilet' lightly) outside the window where I am writing this. I keep catching wiffs.
I must say that your closing line caught me a bit off guard there. I quote, "Take care, blood, bled  your food, accreditation." Now you say that your 'kindle hand-held camp fire' has an autocorrect function, so I could assume this is a result of that, but I could also assume it isn't. However; I assure you I will give an honest effort this week to bleed my food. I am not quite sure how to go about this, and willing to give it a try. That's what a mission is about, right?
Okay, for an answer about the internet problem.. yeah, I don't know. I guess just try to find some people that know what they are doing? Have them come look at it? That's all I can really imagine would help.
So I have attached some photos for your viewing pleasure.
First, it is the rainy season. Here we have a funny man doing a funny man pose. Funny man. Some of the little roads and paths get really backed up with water, like this one. According to the family we teach by here, this is isn't really to bad yet. It gets much worse than this some years.
Second, I don't remember which is second so I will describe just from what I remember. Here you have my awesome tan-line. I guess you could call this a 'missionary tan' or a 'white collar tan,' it'll all do. It's pretty cool, huh? Also, you can see the really short hair cut I got a few weeks ago. I don't really like it that short, but I don't really care either. At this point, it is all fine. I don't like my hair short, but it has to be, so no matter how it looks now it's fine. Might as well go way short sometimes.
Third, sometimes it is needful to hitch hike the indian ocean. 
Fourth, here we have a fruit. I don't know what this is called in English. It's a funny little fruit which tastes like.. hmm.. soursop, if you know what that is. Okay, I have never eaten a soursop, but I have drinken the 'pop drink' (a type of drink powder mix) version and they tasted similar. Okay, i just found out that it is called 'pomme cannelle' in french, or 'sugar apple' in english. It doesn't really taste like an apple at all.
Anyway though, things are going well. I have officially been in this area the longest so far, and it still feels like the shortest. 
I don't really have too much to say though.
Let me know how the internet goes!
Elder Berjerry

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dearest Maman,
I am not sure why my email didn't quite get to you last week. I suppose it got lost somewhere over the Sahara, but alas, I have sent it again and I do trust you have received it. I did write last week, so don't you think I have forgotten (heaven forbid). I did not forget. I also included a selection of photos for your viewing pleasure, which I trust will be welcomed greatly. If for any reason this 'ghost email' does not appear in your inbox for a second week in a row, please tell me and I will alert the guard! The little yellow friend-in-a-box told me that it 'sent successfully' though, so I do not expect any further problems.
As far as life this week though, it has been good. This is going to be very missionary-like of me, so I apologizes for those who are "in it for the thrill," but I had a very spiritually uplifting week. I can't really describe it super well, but after listening to some talks that a returned missionary put on my USB, I just felt the spirit this whole week. I mean, I would earnestly say I have felt the spirit abundantly these past however-many-months, yes, but this week it has been really strong. Every single thing that went wrong this week, whether investigators not being home or those little racial things people say that just sort of gnaw at you, meant absolutely nothing to me. I can't really describe it well, like I said, but it just felt like I had been lifted up to the next level. Like everything on this earth is just passing and none of the hardships or annoyances have eternal meaning. The scary part is that so many things can take this away. A stray thought about 'that girl over there' can rip that feeling away and your stranded back on earth, lost in the weariness of it all yet again. So, you have to watch your thoughts. That's what has been the hardest for me this whole mission so far. I have seen some cool blessing this week from it though.
It's crazy how real this gospel is, haha. Sometimes we are blind and we can't see it. Sometimes we even blind ourselves. Once the eyes are opened though... it's cool.
That's been the spiritual side of this past week. It's been nice.
By the time I get to talk to you all again, we will have received transfers (unless I am mistaken). I have been in this area five months, one week, and two days to be exact. Now, five months really isn't too long of a time. A lot of missionaries have been in areas much longer than that, but it has been my longest area like I told you in a recent email. It could go either way. I feel like I have already told you all this though.. so I guess what I am really just trying to say is that if I do get transferred, I will let you know in a week.
We have a baptism coming up though. It's for a young teenage kid named Francis. His baptism should be on March 2nd, so if I am still here, I will be there, haha. He is a cool kid. He is friends with another 16 year old kid who got baptised back in September, Patrick. We go out and teach with Patrick every saturday, and Francis is his friend that he has brought into the church. We honestly haven't had a ton of baptisms lately, but I feel like our RCLA work has been going well.
I like rice.
The storms are a brewin'.
I attached another picture. Here we have a little part of the town up close by the ocean. You see the water up the path in the picture? That is the tide coming up, or as the locals call it 'samota'. That's a very local word, and offical Malagasy doesn't have a word for that, as far as I can tell, but here in Mahajanga the locals have gave it a life of its own.
I always feel like my emails are kind of lame, but I promise I will let anyone read my mission journals when I get home. They are a daily log of how I feel.. well.. daily. It's cool. So yeah, y'all can read those in a while.
LOL!! (lots of love)
Elder Ber.chair.a
p.s. I am stoked Brittany won that Disneyland Trip! Her idea to wait until I get home to use it is great too. Let's do it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Hey Mahm,
I'm glad the ward liked the letter I wrote for them. I figured it was the least I could do to show my support for the good ol' home ward. Hey, do you think you could do me a favor? I am just curious as to who else in the ward is out on missions. I can't imagine that my plaque is the only one filling up that Mt. View 1st ward display case, but the only other person I can remember is Brad Holdaway, which I am pretty sure he is either home or really close to getting home. So if you happened to take a glance at that thing in the church, it would be appreciated. Obviously I would be a-o.k. either way, but I've just got a case of that curiousity bug.
But yeah, I am glad they liked the letter. That was my goal in writting it, so it seems a success.
About that snow.. I am just happy you are all getting some nice snow. From what you all said last year, it was a bit of a let down, but I guess that is all getting made up for now? No more of this silly 'drought' business. It's like I just told Brittany, I hope that next year is the snowest yet. I will come right out of winter here, and go into a nice Utahn winter.
As far as the weather goes here, it has just been rainy. Just one big rainy mess. I have been utilizing my half broken umbrella really well though, so don't worry about that. Only sometimes do I have to walk through rivers. The house only leaks someplaces. The mud on my shoes is only bad if you look at it. The whole idea of the rainy season is all about how you look at it really. Once you get used to the idea of being wet, it's just like any other day. Any other season. In all honesty though, I am really stoked on it. You see, Mahajanga is hot. I think I have done a good job explaining that these last five months, but it is hot. Just... hot. Finishing a 1.5L bottle of water in a day's work is too easy, and really, it all comes out via sweat. Ever since the rain has come though, it's been nice. Not necessarily cool 100% of the time, but nice. Even cold sometimes. I would dare say that I have felt cold once since I have been here. Yes, the rain is a bit annoying, but it has it's perks.
In other news, like I just mentioned I have almost been in this area for five months. I will hit that mark this week. It has gone by so unbelievably fast. It feels faster than either of my first two areas, and it's already been longer than both. I feel like I have helped a lot of people here too. Not so much in great numbers of baptisms really, but just helping those recent converts and less actives get strong foundations of faith. That is the huge push in the mission right now. These past few years there have been huge numbers of baptisms, but the problem is there is a huge number of less actives. Just a huge number of people who haven't truly built a solid foundation of faith, and when those waves of tribulation came, they pulled back and hid away. The huge push in the mission right now is to help those people, and make sure that all the people being baptized now truly hold onto the iron rod.
We want a temple here in Madagascar. It is sad to teach people about the temple, and then tell them that the closest one is in South Africa. Many of these people have never left this island, so they don't think they will ever be able to go to South Africa, so the temple becomes a distant dream. Yes, there are those awesome people who just work hard and make that a reality. There will always be awesome people. But a lot of people don't have that great faith and hope, and become discouraged upon learning that there is no temple here. So that's what we are trying to do now. Get the church here on a solid foundation. It's doing pretty good, for we've got two stakes on the island, but we have to do better. We just have to keep going, you know? 
I trust there will be a Temple here someday.
Carpe diem! (that's not malagasy)
Don't forget to send me a picture of that calendar, okay?
Thank y'alls.
Elder "Anderson" Bergera
"Coach's Pick"